Controlling the Spread of Disease in Schools
by Benjamin J. Ridenhour, Alexis Braun, Thomas Teyrasse, David Goldsman
Pandemic and seasonal infectious diseases such as influenza may have serious negative health and economic consequences. Certain non-pharmaceutical intervention strategies – including school closures – can be implemented rapidly as a first line of defense against spread. Such interventions attempt to reduce the effective number of contacts between individuals within a community; yet the efficacy of closing schools to reduce disease transmission is unclear, and closures certainly result in significant economic impacts for caregivers who must stay at home to care for their children. Using individual-based computer simulation models to trace contacts among schoolchildren within a stereotypical school setting, we show how alternative school-based disease interventions have great potential to be as effective as traditional school closures without the corresponding loss of workforce and economic impacts.